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Deaths involving COVID-19 continued to rise in the UK

In the UK, there were 1,059 deaths involving COVID-19 registered in the week ending 13 January 2023, accounting for 5.3% of all deaths. This is an increase from 842 in the previous week, which was 5.0% of all deaths.

In England, there were 849 deaths involving COVID-19 registered in the week ending 13 January 2023, which is an increase from 679 in the previous week.

COVID-19 infections continued to decrease in England and Wales, and decreased in Northern Ireland and Scotland, in the week ending 10 January 2023.

The estimated percentage of people living in private households (those not in care homes or other communal establishments) testing positive for COVID-19 was:

  • 2.61% in England (1 in 40 people)

  • 3.94% in Wales (1 in 25 people)

  • 4.22% in Northern Ireland (1 in 25 people)

  • 3.26% in Scotland (1 in 30 people)

In England, the infection rate decreased in all age groups and all regions in the week ending 10 January 2023.

The overall hospital admission rate of patients with confirmed COVID-19 in England continued to decrease to 6.69 per 100,000 people in the latest week (ending 15 January 2023). The intensive care unit (ICU) and high dependency unit (HDU) admission rate continued to decrease slightly to 0.23 per 100,000 people (week ending 15 January 2023).

Mortality rates due to COVID-19 decreased in England (from 26.1 to 22.2 per 100,000 people) and increased in Wales (from 27.4 to 30.1 per 100,000 people) between November and December 2022. However, this change was not significant in Wales. The proportion of deaths involving COVID-19, where COVID-19 was the underlying cause, increased between November and December 2022 in England (from 64.8% to 67.9%) and in Wales (from 65.8% to 71.9%).

As the autumn vaccine booster campaign progresses, over 15 million people aged 50 years and over had received a booster by 16 January 2023, with over 47,000 people receiving a jab in the latest seven-day period. Adults aged 55 to 64 years are most likely to have received a vaccine in the last three months, while the majority of those in the oldest age groups were last vaccinated three to six months ago now (15 January 2023).

The proportion of patients in hospital in England with confirmed COVID-19 who were being treated primarily for COVID-19 was 36% in December 2022, down from a peak of around 75% between June and December 2021. It was lowest in London (23%) and highest in the South West (57%).

In the UK, the proportion of adults with antibodies against COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) remained high in the week beginning 28 November 2022. Antibodies at or above the 800 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) level increased among those aged 50 years and over from mid-October 2022. This is likely a result of the autumn booster programme.

In the same week, the proportion of children aged 8 to 15 years in Great Britain estimated to have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 remained high at or above the 179 ng/ml level.

Overview of the pandemic

Since COVID-19 reached the UK in early 2020, more than 500 million tests have been reported, more than 9 in every 10 people aged 12 years and over have received at least two vaccinations, and more than 150,000 people have died. 

The ONS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, run independently of government testing, has conducted tests on hundreds of thousands of weekly samples to provide the best estimate of the scale of the pandemic, with a peak of 1 in 13 people infected in England in March 2022.  

How infections, hospitalisations and deaths have changed during the pandemic

Estimated coronavirus (COVID-19) positivity rates, overall hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) and high dependency unit (HDU) admissions, and number of deaths, England, 6 August 2020 to 15 January 2023

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Vaccines have effectively reduced the impact of infections on hospitalisations and deaths, but emerging variants have been much more transmissible. The hospital admission rate and number of deaths involving COVID-19 are lower now than earlier in the pandemic, despite similar, or higher, infection levels.

We are continuing to learn more about the impact of long COVID, which was affecting 2.1 million people (1 in 30) across the UK in December 2022. 

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